1 Comment


How many spam accounts are following you on Twitter?

Leave a comment

Sometime last week, @YukoFinnegan923 started following me on Twitter. A few days later, she stopped following me. Y U NO FOLLOW ME YUKO? I just now tried to find the account and it no longer exists. Fortunately, I took a screenshot of @YukoFinnegan923 from “Minneapolis, MN” while that cutie still existed. I already knew it was a spam account. That bit.ly URL still works and goes to mycheapjobs.com. The website offers an assortment of Internet tomfoolery, such as backlinks to gin up you search-engine optimization (SEO) results, sites with 1,000 Google +1’s built-in, Twitter accounts with 500 followers at the ready, etc. I’ve long been fascinated by the ways people are tricked by the Internet. Recently, Newt Gingrich’s hapless presidential campaign was accused of buying twitter followers. Gingrich’s campaign denied it. The former Speaker of the House got his 1.3 million followers legitimately, his campaign said. Some reporters and pundits also scoffed. But then a new a people-search site, PeekYou, claimed it had researched Gingrich’s Twitter account and found only 8 percent of his followers were human. Douglas Main at Popular Mechanics wrote an excellent piece about trying to figure out what number of followers anybody has are spam or phony. I decided to do a little investigating of my Twitter followers. More

My Google+ is cannibalizing My Twitter

Leave a comment

In my last post, I said Google+ is what you make of it. So far, I’ve created an expanded Twitter. The people I know at some level and the people I follow are drawn almost exclusively from Twitter. A few are also friends on Facebook. My universe of Facebook friends is a hodgepodge collection of real-life friends and co-workers, old classmates, people I friended to interview for stories, people I met on MySpace who switched to Facebook (use your imagination), people I met from other online groups (such as Wonkette commenters), etc. My Google+ crowd is on Twitter, is tech-savvy, and smart. The quality of posting and commenting is very high. These folks also talk a lot about Google+, which I don’t mind, though some are feeling free to post animated cat GIFS and otherwise diversify their voice. I called My Version of Google+ an expanded Twitter because the people I know on Twitter are now being revealed to me beyond the 140-character limit. Especially for people I’m following, such as high-profile entrepreneurs and tech journalists, I am getting access to their thinking that was only available if they had some other outlet and linked to it on Twitter. With all that said, this means that these people are spending less time on Twitter. So my version of Google+ plus is cannibalizing Twitter. Every minute I spend on Google+ is a minute I would have spent scrolling through my fast-paced Twitter stream. I love Twitter and don’t want to hurt it. Xeni Jardin, an editor at Boing Boing, wasn’t so sentimental when she declared: “It’s official. I like G+ more than Twitter now.

Mt. Gox hacked – My Bitcoins trapped!


I’ve just had my first scare with Bitcoin, the virtual crypto-currency that I decided to dabble with. I bought 4.943 Bitcoins for $98 last week through the Mt. Gox exchange. I haven’t done anything with them since then, so they have remained at Mt. Gox in my trading account. I was scrolling through Twitter today and noticed a tweet from one of the Bitcoin-related accounts I follow warning of a hack at Mt. Gox. The site had a message posted saying all activity has been frozen after someone had $1,000 worth of Bitcoins stolen. Here’s the fun part: More

We meet again, Photobucket!

Leave a comment

My first Snapbucket mobile pic.

The last time I used Photobucket a few years ago, it was basically an image-hosting site. You uploaded a photo, grabbed the HTML or IMG code, then posted your photo at some forum and forgot about the original file. On Wednesday, Twitter made public what had been rumored for a few days: It would offer its own photo and video sharing – “powered” by Photobucket. ZOMG. The last time Photobucket was a big deal, Tila Tequila was the Queen of MySpace. Or so I thought. In fact, Photobucket has remained a player, with 8 billion total uploads as of last December. That’s 3 billion more than Flickr. For a while it was owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Now it has hitched its wagon to Twitter. Photobucket recently launched a mobile app called Snapbucket, which has Instagram-type filters. I tried it out and the burger photo above is the result. Overall, Photobucket is a very functional image- and video-sharing service. As I described in my last post, I use an assortment of sharing services for Twitter. I like diversity and competition, so I don’t plan on giving them up. But if the simplest option for sharing pictures is inside Twitter itself, there will be a rough road ahead for outsiders.

In the age of Twitter, what if we had another Sept. 11?


September 11th Memorial | 9-11-09
Credit: Dov Harrington via Flickr

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was half-watching the Today show as I was getting ready for work when Katie Couric reported that there was a big fire at the World Trade Center, possibly caused by a plane crash. I watched live as the second plane hit the south tower. I took a cab to work and heard on the radio that there was a big explosion at the Pentagon. I got on the Web at work and bounced around news sites looking for updates. I didn’t use Internet chat in the office, so my only interaction with other people online was on a bulletin board. I’d refresh the screen every few minutes to see if a new comment had been posted. That’s how we got news back then and I didn’t feel cheated. On Sunday night, the events of that day came full circle with the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. With every major news event, there is much said and written about the expanding role of social media in how we get our information. The bin Laden story is huge, but not all-consuming like the Al Qaeda attacks and aftermath nearly a decade ago. So I wonder how another Sept. 11 would play out on the Internet today. Not only could we get the news faster than the mainstream media could report it, we might even find out faster than the government. Would the passengers on those planes be on Twitter saying they had been hijacked? Would the office workers trapped on the doomed upper floors of the burning skyscrapers beg for help on Facebook? What would you do, watching the horror unfold, sitting there helplessly? The near-instantaneous sharing of social media can get a whole lot deeper than finding out that bin Laden was killed a few minutes before the president announced it on television.

Skip the wedding, watch the Shuttle

1 Comment

Shuttle Launch
Photo: oneaustin via Flickr

On Friday, the media will be saturated with coverage of that disgusting Royal Wedding. Thankfully, there is something else that actually is important happening that day: The scheduled final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. I say “scheduled” because weather or technical problems could delay it. It will be the second-to-last flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle program. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head by a lunatic in January, has been cleared by her doctors to attend. Her husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, is commanding the mission. Now theirs is a true love story. Oh yeah, President Obama will be there, too. The launch is set for 3:47 p.m. Until then – and to avoid the nonstop William and Kate wankery – you can visit the NASA website, which has a fantastic assortment of content. You can watch NASA TV, which has ongoing programs and will be showing the launch. You can visit the social media page and connect many ways. For example, NASA has dozens of NASA Twitter accounts to follow. On a related note, a cool thing you can do on Twitter is follow @twisst, which gives you notifications of when to watch the International Space Station (ISS) crossing the sky. It is particularly bright right now, so check it out. Fun astronaut trivia: Mark Kelly has an identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, who also is an astronaut and most recently was ISS commander.

*Insta* this, *Gram* that


Yesterday I wrote about Postagram, the app and website that lets you turn your Instagram photos into postcards that you mail to friends, family, or yourself. I’ve already mailed four. I also was going to mention the proliferation of everything “insta” and “gram,” but ran out of time. Here’s a partial list of what’s out there: Mapstagram, Inkstagram, Insta-great, Instabam, Instagallery, Extragram, Webstagram, and Instagrid. Just like Twitter has its “Twittersphere” or “Twitterverse” of apps and websites, Instagram is fast becoming its own center of gravity for app and web developers. Instagram launched in October and was an immediate sensation. It was fun, easy to use, and free. It is now reportedly adding 130,000 users a week. Instagram opened its APIs (application programming interface) to developers in February, and the instas and the grams have been rolling out ever since. The most interesting is Mapstagram, which shows Instagram photos being uploaded in real time on a Google map of the United States. You can zoom in to any part of the country to see photos popping up in different corners of your community. It’s illustrative of how pervasive and active Instagram has become, and, according to this blog post by Mapstagram’s developer, how easy these things are to create if you know what you’re doing.

Turn your Instagrams into postcards


I liked this idea as soon as I read about it today: Send postcards of your Instagram photos for 99 cents each. Sharing photos on your phone is fun, but having an easy option to send somebody a print in the form of a quality postcard makes perfect sense. I want to do it and 99 cents is that magical price point, just like with apps and even eBooks. So now we have Postagram. I downloaded the free app and sent my first Postagram this morning to a mutual Instagram follower and Twitter friend. Because I got the app within the first 24 hours of release I got a free one to send. I just sent a second one to see what a pay one is like. I put in my credit card information, which you only do once, and I was done. Simple and easy. Of course, you can send them to yourself and I’ll be doing that shortly. All that’s left is to get some feedback on the quality of the postcards, which should arrive in 2 to 5 3 to 7 days. I’d hate to hear about flimsy paper stock with sloppy printing that rubs off. If I like it, and get the thumbs up from my friends, then I’ll rate this app a home run. You can also send postcards from the Postagram website. Not only can it be fun in your daily life, but imagine traveling or being on vacation and sending one of these rather than a generic postcard you would buy in a gift shop. You can watch a short video about Postagram here: More

Should I boycott Libya’s .ly domains?

Leave a comment

As a frequent Twitter user who prefers to share links to interesting articles and websites, I need a URL shortener. Most recently I’ve been using bit.ly. It works great for me. It also has the .ly domain, which means it’s registered in Libya. The company is based in New York, not Libya, but it paid $75 for the .ly domain. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal had a good article about who uses the Libyan domain, and how some companies are starting to steer away from it. Also worth noting: You cannot currently get a new .ly domain because of economic sanctions reimposed on Libya by the United States. And one startup, Letter.ly, just ran into trouble when it was unable to renew its domain. With the proliferation of domain hacks to represent names, such as Canv.as and Instagr.am, international politics can be a concern. But for the average Twitter user who uses an .ly URL shortener to share links, should they care? I support the military intervention in Libya and I hope to see Muammar Gaddafi toppled. However, boycotting a URL shortener won’t help the Libyan people fighting Gaddafi. I’m sticking with bit.ly. For those who wish to chose differently, is.gd touts itself as the “ethical URL shortener” and highlights the fact that it does not use a Libyan domain. Is.gd is registered in Grenada, which has not been controversial since Ronald Reagan was president. Is.gd is no-frills, which may be all you need (image above is from is.gd’s sister site, v.gd). There are many country domains to chose from. Or you can create your own vanity URL shortener.

Older Entries